28 March 2013
Casuals? y'know...Craft knives and crocodiles, headbangers with Head bags, big in the 80's weren't they? so went the opening of the intro to what was and still is my favourite read on this subject. Going back ten years, make no bones about it, this was something I was bang into. Young, disposable income, living for the weekend and every other Tuesday night. A lot has been said on this subculture today, despite the fact this book was written for the very reason that, at the time of it's release, a lot wasn't said. This youth cult was still very much an underground, oft ignored kind of movement.
At that time the 'hooly-lit' books which soon became ten a penny were pretty much few and far between, there were some good ones, I enjoyed the Soul Crew, Stoke and Blades ones at that time and before it largely became a big muddle of the same tales from different affiliations, affiliations of varying clubs from the top of the tree (or table) to club's you didn't really even see as that way inclined! You know the kind of stuff 'ten of us against fifty of them...' 'bodies everywhere' 'My Dad's dick's bigger than yours...' etc etc... gets a bit boring after a while. I'm not saying any of it didn't happen, but there's always two sides to every tale and grown men arguing over printed matter is going just that bit too far.
Nowadays it's kind of shifted with time, blogs, forums sites and social networks are where people air their views, somewhat totally ill advisedly a lot of the time, especially if you still want to go and throw punches/chairs at rival fans. Sites and notable social network pages who still try and keep that flame burning, just get shouted down usually, drowned out by the divs, the JCL's, a mass of sheep-like folk who weren't even there when it mattered anyway.
There are two sides to this thing though, dressing and shall we say, the other, I'd always said they went hand in hand, it could be argued not so, but that's another debate for another time.
Today, like the other books of who they ran, who they did, it's now blogs, mags and books with recollections of what we wore and how we wore it, which seems to be the norm, it doesn't half get tedious sometimes though eh? seeing all the usual; the South were cool, the North were scruffy cunts, the North were cool, the South were scruffy cunts. The whole 'we wore that first, I've been doing that for years', we were wearing them at least an hour before you got yours, I had them years ago. Letters to the Face and the End in the the olden days are still being argued by the next generation. Only, it's 2013, the internet put paid to all that now, nothing is cool, secret, exclusive or elusive any more. Get over it, nothing is any good to me when it all gets too serious.
Casuals was different, well written, informative, funny. Just normal guys, opinionated, but not too snooty, very observant, good politics, with their own tales to tell, regional dialect and point of differences made it what it is. This struck a chord with me, I could relate to loads of it, stuff I thought deep down was just happening to me and a few around me, and that felt pretty good. I actually asked Phil Thornton to sign my copy when I first met him last year, he was humbled about that but it meant a lot to me. I took this to a trip to Corfu when it first came out, a lad's holiday without the 'lads', too fucking hot and honestly not my cup of tea, looking back I should have been doing technicolor spews and been balls deep in some fat slag from Keighley, that's what night time was for, pph. But, I meant what I said when I told Phil it was the highlight of that one holiday. Reading it cover to cover in about 5 days, I never finished books back then either. Loved it, lived it, even got the coat (or a version of it) off the cover!
Right now, I find a lot of folk tend to frown at the C-word, it's the new ted, the new mod, people try and steer away from it, but on the journey up our own backsides we should never forget where we came from though. It doesn't take a genius to spot the fact it's all come full circle once again. Just look around, casual was cool, then it went mainstream, so then we all got sick of it. 'Heritage' came along and quickly went, a tricky word for many in the clothing industry, that, Americana, wax, tweed and classic 'pieces' at uber-premium prices went from 'this is quite cool' to everywhere, to the rails of H&M and fucking Primark.
Trainer culture is back for many once again, did it go away? for many of us, totally. Not six years ago did pretty much everyone (that's how it seemed) seemingly denounce them, it's finished, sell all their collections off. Masses of blue boxes were replaced by a handful of beige ones containing posh, expensive hand sewn shoes and moccasins. Sportswear came back, but leave that to the kids, no, seriously please. You look like a postbox/dry lunch/cunt in that. Seriously you do.
Come forward posh technical wear, streetwear, import brands, vintage one-offs, outdoorwear (nothing new there) Military inspired stuff, nu-casual; out with your polka dots in with your camo, we shouldn't wear that, but do it, mix and match. Still, that army of divs, dinosaurs and sheep come out with the classic 'that's not casual' once more, you're 40 odd wearing a Fila (with tits in it) or Stone Island glow in the dark coats and Adidas re-issues poking fun at something a bit different, off the radar, more obscure, daring even, that's not casual, without a tinge of irony. Now, that's not casual.
Now it's all back, people wearing expensive designer wear who didn't like to in the first place, ten years on it's all goggles and patches again, 'cool' people are wearing 'the gear', what next checked caps? surely not, don't bet against it! It comes back; neatly packaged re-issues of old classics once again, 'from the vault, from the archive...' ooh, everyone's wearing them, I'll get New Balance or Nike to be a bit different - 'kinell, everyone's wearing NB's and Nike now, I'll go back to Adidas to be a bit different...didn't this happen ten years ago?
Anyway, Ive gone right fucking off on one here, who do I think I am, Phil Thornton? at least he can write eh readers?
After first meeting the Casual collective in the summer with our good friends from the real North, Our Culture, it was time to return the favour, so at the back end of last year me and my brother, my brother and I, set sail down the Mersey to meet 'the author' and Ste C again, we got the train but I was trying to connect our respective towns with that big smelly river that finishes at Liverpool, but started in Stockport, we started that one scousers, wink wink. We had a pan of (wool) Scouse a brew, or bevvy as they say over that way, then a couple of proper bevvies as the afternoon got late. We agreed and encouraged as previously discussed that it would be cool if he brought back a revised edition of Casuals. Similarly, we decided a re-ignition of the slightly related Curva Nord label would be well worth doing, shouts to Daniel from Distant Echo as he pushed for it first, the first tee released just last month, check out Mr T's moves, yes, actual dancing in one of them here.
It was a genuine pleasure to be involved in this one, as I've said the book is cool and a genuine 'bible' on that scene to many. We met up in Runcorn and made the short jaunt o'er the Cheshire plain, via the banks of the River Mersey with a panoramic glimpse over Cheshire, Halton bridge, Warrington, Widnes, Spike Island in the distance and Fiddler's Ferry power station - an ugly, yet strangely alluring site, as it's cooling towers pumped thick polluting smoke into a lovely, slightly overcast blue sky.
I got my Canon out and got a few snaps, some of which were intended for the book, no pressure! I was pretty chuffed with the outcome and thrilled to see my photos make it into the book. Capturing a mix of scally chic, modern and classic casual (with my 'OG' Peter Storm overhead cag making an appearance too) to dressed down and anti-suss looks.
If you've not got the book yet then you really should. Frankly it's the best seven quid you'd spend all year, it's revised, updated and there's even an accompanying book, 100% Pure Wool, which is probably the only book that's ever made me laugh out a snot bubble out at 3 o'clock in the morning. You can get that one here with all proceeds going to the author.
Casuals Revised is available from all good bookshops, some of them might have the old cover, but it is the new one.
Posted by One-up at 02:22